A New Jersey police officer was arrested Sunday after authorities discovered a meth lab inside his home that he shared with a child, prosecutors said.
Long Branch police responded to a domestic disturbance call at the home of Officer Christopher Walls, a 19-year veteran of the force, on Saturday evening, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
A hazmat team from the New Jersey State Police discovered instruments and all the ingredients needed to make methamphetamine in the basement and in a shed on the property, according to prosecutors. Authorities also found meth residue on chemistry glassware and books about making methamphetamine, explosives and poison, the office said.
Walls, 50, was suspended without pay by the police department on Sunday, prosecutors said. He is being held at the Monmouth County jail pending a detention hearing.
“A very serious risk to public safety has been averted,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a statement. “It is particularly distressing that this hazard was caused by a sworn law enforcement officer.”
Prosecutors said the officers also found a “large open and unsecured gun safe” that contained two long guns, four handguns, eight high-capacity magazines and ammunition. The safe was accessible to a child living at the property.
“It is disappointing beyond measure that one of our officers could have risked the safety of his family and neighbors by engaging in such dangerous conduct,” Long Branch Acting Police Chief Frank Rizzuto said in a statement.
The city’s director of public safety will file disciplinary charges seeking to fire Walls, Long Branch Mayor John Pallone said Monday.
“The city has a no tolerance policy for any illegal activity committed by police officers. They must be held to the highest standard,” Pallone said in a statement.
Walls faces several charges, including maintaining or operating a narcotics production facility; manufacturing and possessing methamphetamine; possession of a firearm during the course of a drug offense; and endangering the welfare of a child.
It was unclear if Walls had a lawyer.
The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that causes euphoric-like effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overdose deaths involving methamphetamine have significantly increased since 2012, the CDC said.